Herbs to Grow Now
We have learned in this pandemic that essential items including medicinal herbs can quickly disappear from grocery stores. A good way to ensure that we have access to herbs that we need is to start growing our own medicine.
By growing our own herbs we start to build relationships with the plants that become our own medicine. We learn to be in a reciprocal relationship with plants. As we take care of our herbal allies, they take care of us. This helps us to see that plants are not simply commodities but living beings who can be an essential part of our environment.
Even before the covid-19 pandemic there was a worldwide shortage of medicinal plants from their native habitats. The demand for medicinal plants has led to overharvesting of plants which could lead to their potential extinction. To preserve these plants for future generations we must learn to grow them ourselves or to support local herbal growers and farmers.
I want to give a big shout out to United Plant Savers, an organization whose mission is “to protect native medicinal plants of the United States and Canada and their native habitat while ensuring an abundant renewable supply of medicinal plants for generations to come.” Many medicinal plants are being wildcrafted, or harvested from their natural environment to the point of extinction. United Plant Savers shares lists of plants that are endangered or at risk. It is important to be mindful of our own consumption and not purchase any endangered herbs that are wildcrafted.
As an alternative to wildcrafting or purchasing wildcrafted herbs we can support people who are organically growing these important medicinal plants. In Northern California we are lucky to have the Sonoma County Herb Exchange, which provides fresh, organically grown medicinal plants throughout the growing season.
I have been living and gardening in Huichin, Ohlone Territory (Oakland, CA) for the past 25 years. This list is based on plants that grow well in the Bay Area. Many of these plants grow well throughout much of California. To learn more about growing plants in your bioregion I recommend contacing local gardeners or nurseries.
So many medicinal plants grow well in this coastal environment! I started this list so that your garden would be able to support the people in your household facing many common health conditions such as colds, flu, sore throats, cough, fevers, stress, insomia, depression, and cuts and wounds. Tulsi and ashwagandha are also both adaptogens, which are excellent support for our immune and nervous systems.
To be clear, this list is not about plants which treat covid-19. Please check out the American Herbalist Guild site for more resources on herbal protocols for working the virus: https://www.americanherbalistsguild.com/covid-19-resources
Herbs that grow well in pots
Great herbs to grow now:
- Yarrow (achillea millefolium)
- Mint (mentha spp)
- Elderberry (sambucus nigra, spp caerulea)
- Mugwort (artemisia vulgaris)
- Lemon balm (melissa officionalis)
- Chamomile (matricaria recutita)
- Tulsi (ocimum sanctum)
- Ashwagandha (withania somnifera)
- CA Poppy (eschscholzia)
- Echinacea (echinanea spp)
- Passionflower (passiflora spp)
- Mullein (verbascum)
- Nettles (urtica dioca)
- Life in the Medicine: A guide to growing and harvesting herbs for medicine making by Leslie Gardner. Available through the Sonoma County Herb Exchange
- The Medicinal Herb Grower, a Guide to Cultivating Plants that Heal by Richo Chec. Available through Strictly Medicinal Seeds
- The Chinese Medicinal Herb Farm by Peg Schafer
- Spiral Gardens, Berkeley
- Planting Justice, Oakland
Northern CA Herbal Growers & Suppliers
USDA Plant Zone Map: To determine which plants can grow in your bioregion.
For more resources on herbal medicine, local herbal growers and indigenous people’s solidarity, please check out our post on Resources for Building Relationship with Plants.
What are the essential herbs you are growing in your garden? Please share in the comments below.